This project expects to characterize the mycota associated to the socially important and economically valuable rubber trees in the Brazilian Amazon region. The project will focus on characterizing endophytic and saprophytic fungi that naturally occur in Brazil and compare to fungal diversity in another region of Amazon basin, the Peruvian Amazon region. The idea is to corroborate the hypothesis that suggest that fungal endophytes have coevolved with their host plants to protect them from natural enemies.
The endophytic fungi associated to native rubber trees occurring in the Brazilian Amazon region can be utilized in biological control of Microcyclus ulei, the agent of South American leaf blight which is the scourge rubber trees. This project can add more aggregated value to this important tree of Amazonian forests, reinforcing the necessity of avoiding the potential loss of useful biodiversity due to deforestation and expansion of agricultural and livestock breeding frontier in the Brazilian Amazon region.
Summary of Recent Activities
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In the first couple of months of the PEER project, the project team recruited a postdoctoral student and an undergraduate from the Centro de Excelência em Bioinformática, Fundação Oswaldo Cruz (FIOCRUZ). These two students have been trained in collection of samples, DNA extraction, and phylogenetic analyses. The team, along with U.S. partner Priscila Chaverri, held a workshop November 12-14, 2013, during which the planning and logistical activities related to biological material collection in ecological parks in the Brazilian Amazon were discussed. The team secured permits from the Ministry of Environment for the three collection areas: Anavilhanas National Park, the National Forest of Tapajós, and the National Forest of Caxiuanã. Licenses for the participation of the U.S. partners on this project were still pending at the time this report was submitted (January 2014).
In the next six months, the team is planning one or two field trips to Anavilhanas National Park and the National Forest of Tapajós. In addition, the team will start on labwork, including DNA DNA extraction and isolation, as well as morphological characterization of fungal endophytes.